Too much to do for Mass today? Prioritize worship, and God makes time

In My Father’s House / Paul Moore

“Too much to do for Mass today.” I’ve said that a few times in my life — not just about weekday Masses (with His help, I can’t remember ever saying it about Sunday Mass), but other forms of spiritual nourishment such as retreats, or eucharistic adoration (which, come to think of it, is a form of mini-retreat).

However, God’s economy does not abide by the earthly precepts of Parkinson’s Law, which states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

By contrast, time given to God’s worship and will tends to result in more time for other pursuits. I’m not quite sure how the spiritual realm reverses the rules of supply and demand in terms of time (and everything else), but I’ve witnessed too many examples to deny the truth of it.

When I looked forward to retirement, I foresaw going to daily Mass as well as getting an expanded to-do list done. It hasn’t quite worked out that way . . . 

Pope Francis manages to get a bit done in terms of world travels, papal audiences, encyclicals, and such, and yet he rises at 4:30 a.m. and spends the next two hours in prayer and scriptural meditation — and that’s before Mass. Later, after settling down to work in his home office, there will often be a rosary break, and before dinner, an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, though he confesses to sometimes nodding off.

I’m tired just reading about it.

St. Mother Teresa provides another example of accomplishment. She established the Missionaries of Charity, which by her life’s end had more than 4,000 sisters operating 610 missions in 123 countries. She would probably say it was as simple as 1-2-3 . . . Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Like Francis, Mother rose at 4:30 a.m. (no longer dare I call it an “unholy” hour). Prayers, Mass, spiritual reading, meditation, adoration, and night prayers interspersed her day.

Did those portions build the rest?

URGENT VERSUS IMPORTANT

When I looked forward to retirement, I foresaw going to daily Mass as well as getting an expanded to-do list done. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, and I’m not totally sure why. I guess I hadn’t anticipated spending quite as much time in my new part-time job of going to medical appointments and filling out health care insurance forms, but I can’t blame it all on that. It just always seems like there’s something more urgent than getting up and going to church.

However, urgent and important are two different things. Urgent requires my time and attention and tends to be demanding and repetitious — like the ringtone of my cell phone that insists “Answer me!” Conversely, the most important invitations never shout for attention to themselves, but if I fill up my life with the urgent, my ears may be too abuzz to hear His still, small voice.

Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, who founded the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, asked us to imagine Christ’s call as an invitation from a friend “with no equal in the world,” who wanted nothing more than to “unite himself to you in the closest way possible.”

That is the sacrificial friendship of the Eucharist, and it is what calls me quietly if I am but willing to turn the ear of my heart toward Him.

This act of spiritual prioritizing still allows me to get things “done” in life, as with the devoted husband, father, professor and writer J. R.R. Tolkien, whose day started with Mass, and ended with him exploring the realm of Middle Earth and writing “The Lord of the Rings.”

Examples like Tolkien’s prove I can be productive in a secular way, while getting more practice as a practicing Catholic.

COMPANIONSHIP WITH A FRIEND

In the future, I may not get to Mass every day, but please God I won’t allow myself the rationalization that I will have more “time” if I don’t go. As Pope Francis observed recently, the Eucharist is no side dish, but food for the everyday journey.

To close with a thought from Venerable Archbishop Sheen, “Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but an hour of companionship.” I pray to remember that when the alarm sounds at 7 a.m. for morning Mass: I have a friend waiting.

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PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at paulthomasmoore@hotmail.com.

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